Veterans Advocate Seeks Volunteers to Prepare Civil War Graves for Wreaths Across America Day

Local leaders and community members gathered at Hilldale Cemetery during a previous Wreaths Across America Day. (Jay Saulnier photographs for WHAV News.)

Preparations are underway at the Hilldale Cemetery in Haverhill for this December’s Wreaths Across America Day, in which remembrance wreaths are placed at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as at events coordinated at more than 2,100 locations across the United States, at sea and abroad.

Veterans advocate Donald Jarvis of Haverhill was a guest last week on WHAV’s morning show. He’s using his expertise in gravestone restoration, along with the help of volunteers, to help prepare the area.

“And there’s a section they call Soldiers Hill and that’s where the volunteers do Wreaths Across America every December on that little hill, in that little section. It’s actually a Civil War memorial. There are several Civil War graves that are circled around, with a flag pole in the middle, and I was there earlier this year and I saw that a lot of these Civil War markers—the grave stones, the monument—they kind of, over time, have sunken, gotten dirty, but they’ve gotten affected by the weather, by the elements,” he said.

Jarvis says the Civil War markers are 36 inches long with 20 inches showing above ground, but over time they sink. In fact, one marker was only about eight inches above ground. Jarvis and volunteers carefully remove stones, clean them and place them back using a level and tape measure to make sure they’re steady. It takes about two hours per stone.

“Back in 2011, there was a presidential executive order that cited the best and most effective way to care for the veterans graves that are government markers, and those are the only ones I touch—the government markers. So, following those guidelines, which are the same guidelines that Arlington uses, we are working on cleaning and resetting all of the Civil War markers around there,” he noted.

The on-going project is looking for people who would like to help. Those who wish to volunteer may contact Jarvis by email at [email protected] to find out when the next restoration day takes place.

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